CGI Deserves Some Recognition And Respect
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CGI Deserves Some Recognition And Respect

It's time for me to commit "the" cardinal sin for a film enthusiast by defending CGI.

CGI Deserves Some Recognition And Respect

Special effects are found in almost every film released from the beginning of the medium to the present. We tend to remember great practical effects like the Orc makeup in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and the the use of real cars and stunts in "Mad Max: Fury Road." However, we typically neglect some of the great effects done entirely by computer.

Sure, film culture has gotten better with it's treatment of CGI as the technology improved and photo-realism became more and more attainable, but the respect and artistic appreciation give to other special effects teams like makeup is still lacking. For example, you can probably name some practical effects artists like Rick Baker or Jim Henson, but can you name any memorable people who work behind the computers on digital effects? The industry still has a long way to go.

CGI has usually been seen as a lesser craft even within effects industries. We apply artistry to the craftsmen who made the models and alien makeup for "Star Wars," but we sneer at the computer effects artist who uses CGI to create unique planets and in-humanoid looking creatures in the same series. It seems like computer effects artists can't get any respect anywhere.

Those are the people that I feel the most sorry for because they act as the "whipping boys" of the effects industry in film. They have to do massive amounts of labor intensive work for dozens of films a years and they don't even get respect from their industry peers, because they are currently too busy talking about how much more impressive practical effects are and how "artificial" CGI looks/feels. They do most of the work and get little in terms of recognition.

This has always rubbed me the wrong way. The industry loves to defend this mentality by comparing the two and showing how much more effective practical effects are to CGI. However, they always seem to accomplish this by cherry picking good examples from practical and bad examples from CGI. I could easily do the same in reverse, like comparing the fantastic digital apes in the new "Planet of the Apes" films to the practical ones from the earlier films which, let's be honest, haven't aged that well.

Our mentality surrounding CGI needs to change. We view the computer and the tools on it as soulless compared to the craftsmen who shape masks and suits by hand, but the truth is that the computer is just another tool used by an artist similar to the scalpels or latex used by practical effects artist. Both have real human beings shaping and crafting an effect.

Each form has it's intended use; typically if you can do an effect practically, then do it practically. If it can't, then you use CGI. However, as technology improves and the use of CGI is becoming more widespread, it's beginning to take over roles once used for practical and the industry longs nostalgically for the past (so do I). That being said, you shouldn't throw out the new because you long for the old, both forms of special effects deserve credit and artistic merit equally.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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